Culture and Laws
Sinnsreachd is a religion that involves secular cultural elements, though it is often stated to be a culture with religious elements entwined in it instead. In objective review, it appears to be a roughly 60% culture, 40% religion split. There is no central body that oversees or dictates Sinnsreachd customs, culture, or religious beliefs, but the practitioners of Sinnsreachd recognize each other based on their adherence to cultural and religious doctrines that are along the same general lines. The origins of the culture and customs of the Sinnsreachd faith come from a variety of sources. These include family customs and superstitions, traditions still found in the Gaelic communities of Ireland and Scotland, customs and traditions recorded in the 19th and early 20th century in these countries, as well as the Gaelic-speaking Diaspora populations in the Americas and Australia. Many of these cultural traits and customary laws are found within the Fénechas (a.k.a. "Brehon Law"), and from religious history and recorded lore found in the manuscripts of the Leabhar na Núachongbála (The Book of Leinster), Leabhar na nUidre (The Book of the Dun Cow), Leabhar Baile an Mhota (The Book of Ballymote), Leabhar Mór Mhic Fhir Bhisigh (The Great Book of Lecan), Leabhar Buidhe Lecain (The Yellow Book of Lecan), and the Leabhar Feirmoithe (The Book of Fermoy).
Socially, Sinnsreachd is a tribal faith, grouping into small to medium tribe-like family-based groups. The smallest of these groups is the household, called a teaghlach, teaghlaigh plural, comprised of a family of persons living under one roof or in one general household such as a farmstead. The next largest of these groups is the kin-group, or fine, finte plural (fineachan plural in Gàidhlig), which is comprised of everyone in a particular family group related by blood or marriage from a common ancestor. Different varieties of these kin-groups exist, but the most commonly seen version is the dearbhfine, dearbhfhinte plural (dearbhfineachan plural in Gàidhlig), which is all persons descended from a common ancestor out four generations. The largest organizational body of the Sinnsreachd faith is called a tuath, tuatha plural, or clann, clanna plural. The tuath has been roughly equated to mean "tribe", and is considered to be all members of the Sinnsreachd faith in a cohesive body living in a particular geographical area. It could be considered to be the Sinnsreachd equivalent to a diocese, but with closer ties due to familial relations and the cultural and political unifying structure.
Sinnsreachd is comprised of loose hierarchal classes of persons, often referred to as castes. These castes are based around occupation and position within the tribe. Examples of such castes would include ceardaithe (craftsmen), laochra (warriors), filí (poets), draoithe (religious functionaries), seanchaithe (lore-keepers), etc. Leadership is comprised of a chieftain, called either a taoiseach or rí, and the ceanna fine, a form of tribal parliament made up of the heads of each kin group.
One of the more common questions that is asked in regards to the caste system of the Gael is whether or not it is viable in the modern age. Critics claim that the caste system is an archaic remnant of a bygone time in which modern freedoms did not exist. This is not only incorrect, but a view espoused by those who refuse to do proper research into the reality behind both the castes and ranks of our ancestors and our people today. We all live in castes and hierarchies, even if such are not named nor organized. Whether one works in a corporation with overt castes (IT, billing, secretarial, maintenance, etc.) and ranks (cube-gopher, middle-management, CEO, etc.), or whether the castes and ranks one lives in are unconscious expressions of their social life based on occupation, income level, and social standing among one?s cliques and friends, everyone lives in some form of caste and rank system. The difference with the traditional Gaelic caste system is that it is upfront and honest, not hidden, and has openly-declared codified rules governing it. There are critics, to be sure, as the very idea of a caste system or rank system is anathema to self-indulgent and forced-equality systems such as hedonistic anarchy or socialism. However, such systems are anathema to our way of life, and criticisms from that angle are generally ignored.
What value is the caste and rank system of the ancient Gael in modern society, especially when so many of our people live within Host Nations and have no sovereign homeland? Most Sinsearaithe would say invaluable, something that is important not only to the preservation of our traditions but for the strength and survival of our people. Codified and organized castes and ranks give one a sense of their place in the world, and lay out the easy-to-understand steps and goals through which one must pass in order to better their place. They help to take a people defined by their tendency towards individualism and stubborn traits and guide them into a situation where they work together for the common good of the tribe in an organized fashion, making the tribe a coherent and well-oiled machine.
The Gaelic concepts of rank and caste also serve as a form of identification, not only of one?s place in our society and their occupation, but of their level of accomplishment. One is judged based on their position within our society, with the lowest ranks receiving general levels of respect, but those who have climbed higher have earned even more so. Heroes and role-models earn their accolades, they are not simply given to make one feel special. In the deoraithe world, one identifies themselves generally based on their job and level of income. Among the Sinsearaithe, when one speaks of their identity, it is based on their caste and rank. This may seem to be the same general concept at some levels, but the Sinnsreachd ideology holds that identifying oneself based on their income level in a society based on personal acquisition of wealth above all else simply shows that person?s position in the game of make-as-much-money-as-you-can. In a tribal society such as that held by the Sinsearaithe, one?s identity being based on caste and rank shows not only what they do, but how well they do it and what level of dedication to their family and tuath they possess.
In the modern world, the need for self-identity- not only at a cultural or religious level, but at a personal level- is sorely needed in order to have a sense of stability and a sense of one?s place. This is true within our society if it existed in a vacuum, and even more so when we are forced to deal with the pressures and chaos of being surrounded by the deoraithe of the Host Nations in which we dwell for the time being. Eventually, within a few generations, our people will have a homeland where our society, laws, culture, and political structure are the norm, but even then there will be a need to know where one stands in relation to the greater society of one?s tribe and our people as a whole. In the time between now and then, there is the additional need to understand the organizational hierarchy that helps keep our people together and allows us to function and prosper in spite of the crushing pressures of the deoraithe world to cast off our culture and assimilate into their way of life.